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Books  |  Reviews

John Wray

Lowboy [Farrar, Straus and Giroux]

May 5, 2009  |  2:30pm
John Wray

The underground mind


In his latest, versatile novelist John Wray hauntingly inhabits the paranoid schizophrenic mind of his 16-year-old protagonist, Will Heller (aka Lowboy). Convinced that he can single-handedly save the world from the fatal effects of global warming, Will embarks on a journey through the New York City subway system to find Emily Wallace, the one girl he thinks can help him. Because Will has displayed violent tendencies in the past, the pair is pursued by missing-persons detective Ali Lateef and Will’s mother, Violet.

Wray spins out an increasingly suspenseful, psychologically astute narrative, perfectly pitching the voice to accommodate each character’s particular motivations. As the search heats up, Will’s fractured mind continues to corrode his conception of reality: “Sourceless revelations sparked and spun behind his eyelids and memories flashed like stoplights in between …” A final revelation about Violet is followed by the disturbing closing paragraphs, which are sure to linger long after the book is closed.

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